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    Abie Rotenberg is arguably the greatest living composer of Jewish
    music. He has been producing music since 1972 with a style which has
    been described as “soft and sweet”.

    Rotenberg recently published his first novel, The Season of Pepsi
    Meyers (Audley Street Books). Set 25 years in the future, the novel’s
    plot centers around a promising young Jewish baseball player who
    discovers the beauty of Torah Judaism midway through his stellar
    rookie season.

    Rotenberg’s music oeuvre includes D’veykus (six volumes),Journeys
    (four volumes), Aish (two volumes), The Marvelous Middos Machine (four
    volumes), and The Golden Crown.

    Ari Hirsch from The Vues recently interviewed Abie about his musical
    career and his new book Pepsi Myers.

    Name: Abie (Avraham) Rotenberg
    Born:  Queens, NY
    Resides in: Toronto
    Children: 6
    YESHIVA: Chofetz Chaim / Forest Hills
    Favorite Gemara: Sanhedrin
    Largest Venue Performed at: Madison Square Garden
    Favorite Jewish Musician/Artist when growing up:  Shlomo Carlebach,
    Simon & Garfunkel, Benzion Shenker & Rabbi Baruch Chait
    Favorite Shlomo Carlebach song: I like them all.
    Favorite Baseball Team: NY Yankees
    Favorite Baseball Player all time: Mickey Mantle


    D’veykus: Volumes 1-6
    Journeys: Volumes 1-4
    Lev VeNefesh: Volumes 1 & 2
    The Golden Crown
    The Lost Treasure
    Aish: Volumes 1 & 2
    A Time to Laugh
    The Marvelous Middos Machine: Volumes 1-4
    Kol Salonika
    The Place Where I Belong
    Shlomo Carlebach and the Children of Israel sing Ani Maamin (Vocal Arranger)

    VUES: How many years have you been involved in the Jewish music industry?
    AR: Since 1972

    VUES: What inspired you to go into Jewish music?
    AR: I love it and had a knack for it.

    VUES: Who was your favorite musician growing up?
    AR: Shlomo C.

    VUES: Is there a Jewish musician today that you would pay to listen to?
    AR:  Too many to list

    VUES: Is music your full time parnasa?
    AR:  No.

    VUES: What does Abie Rotenberg do when he is not working on music?
    AR:  I’m involved in a family business that imports fashion
    accessories to Canada.

    VUES: What do you prefer: concerts or simchas?
    AR:  They don’t have a Shmorg at concerts!

    VUES: How has the music industry changed over the last 30 plus years?
    AR: Digital technology has transformed music into a commodity that
    travels at the speed of light. Like most things in life, it has both
    positive and negative implications.

    VUES: How many concerts do you perform at per year?
    AR: Just a few.

    VUES: What’s your favorite venue to play at?
    AR: My living room.

    VUES: How many HASC concerts have you performed at?
    AR: Yikes, a lot. Maybe fifteen or more.

    VUES: Were you a fan of R’ Shlomo Carlebachs music? Did you ever
    perform with R’ Shlomo?

    AR:  I loved and still love his compositions. I did play for him and
    with him, several times. Great memories.

    VUES: How and when did your career in music begin?

    AR: I was musical as a child. I sang in a choir, and my father, who
    was from Europe, played piano and loved chassidic niggunim andzemiros,
    so there was always a lot of singing in my home. Already in high
    school I think I composed a couple of songs.

    Then when I got into Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Queens I was learning
    b’chavrusa with Rabbi Label Sharfman. He was one of The Rabbis’ Sons
    [a music group active primarily in the 1960s and ‘70s], so naturally
    we talked about music. He got to hear my compositions and liked them,
    so we decided to do something together – and that became D’veykus.

    VUES: Do you consider yourself first a composer or a singer?
    AR: Composer/Lyricist.

    VUES: Do you play any instruments besides the piano?
    AR: Guitar.

    VUES: Who taught you how to play the piano?
    AR: Many people showed me various techniques. But mostly self-taught.

    (FIX)VUES: What’s your take on the current state of Jewish music?
    AR: I don’t follow it that much. I really don’t. I’m not a wedding
    performer, so I don’t have to know all the hit songs of today. But
    music always changes, so whatever is well accepted and inspires people
    is good. I have a song on Journeys 3 called “Yes, We’ve Got the
    Music,” and the lyrics at the end of the song are “…but one thing we
    must keep in mind/a Jewish song of any kind/is only precious if and
    when/it brings us closer to Hashem.”

    So that’s what Jewish music is. Jewish music is something that should
    help us identify as Jews. And what’s being Jewish? It’s a connection
    to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. So if music gets us there, it doesn’t matter
    what the rhythm is, it’s a beautiful thing.

    VUES: Please tell everyone about your new book “Pepsi Meyers”
    AR: It is a novel about a young phenom who plays for the Yankees in
    the year 2040. He discovers Torah Judaism along the way. It is an
    exciting BASEBALL story that teenagers and up will enjoy. The Torah
    fundamentals it teaches, are seamlessly interwoven into the story and
    anyone reading it…observant or not, will gain knowledge as well as be

    VUES: Have you always been a baseball fan?
    AR: Yes. My father was as well.

    VUES: Do you plan on writing any more books?
    AR: Hmmm…

    (FIX)VUES: What led you, a successful composer, to write a novel?
    AR: Rotenberg: Well, I’ve always been writing. As a lyricist you
    obviously write – even if the form is different. But the plot of the
    novel came to me one morning on the way to shul three years ago. It
    started at the end of my block, and by the time I got to shul – it’s
    about a 15-minute walk – I had the outline of the book in my head.

    VUES: What’s next for ABIE ROTENBERG? Is there something that you have
    not done, that you would love to do?
    AR: I’m still writing niggunim and hopefully some will appear on
    various albums in the near future.

    VUES: Any special plans for Pesach?
    AR: Unlike in past  years, I hope NOT to gain 10 pounds.

    VUES: Any special plans for the summer?
    AR: Go Yankees!

    VUES: Favorite Catskills concert/memory
    AR: Camp HASC…last summer with Baruch Levine.

    VUES: 3 Dinner Guests-Anyone from the history of the World-Who would
    you invite? It could be from Tanach, music world, sports etc.
    AR: Eliyahu HaNavi (Tanach), David HaMelech (Music World), Sandy
    Koufax (Sport) and try to be mekarev him. He has no clue what a
    Kiddush Hashem  he made in 1965)

    VUES: Is there anything else you would like to say to VUES/COUNTRY VUES readers?
    AR: Have a freilich and kosher Pesach. And pick up a Pepsi to share
    with a fellow Jew.